Ryan Lochte wins gold in 400 IM while defending champ Michael Phelps is fourth
On a stunner of an opening night at the pool in London, Michael Phelps was routed by his American rival in the 400-meter individual medley, losing to Ryan Lochte by more than four seconds Saturday. That's not all: The winningest Olympian ever didn't win any medal at all, the first time that's happened in a race of this magnitude since he was a 15-year-old kid competing in just one event at the Sydney Games, a dozen years ago.
The Associated Press
Streak is broken16/18
Since finishing fifth in one event in Syndey, Michael Phelps was 16 of 16 in winning medals at the Olympics — 14 golds and two bronze — until his loss Saturday.
LONDON — Ryan Lochte strolled the deck of the Olympic Aquatics Centre wearing diamonds in his mouth and lime-green sneakers on the feet that powered him through the water faster than anyone else. Beaming, he chomped playfully on his gold medal while Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA" blared throughout the massive arena.
He was nowhere to be found.
Not during the race.
Not when it came time to hand out the medals.
On a stunner of an opening night at the pool in London, Phelps was routed by his American rival in the 400-meter individual medley, losing to Lochte by more than four seconds Saturday. That's not all: The winningest Olympian ever didn't win any medal at all, the first time that's happened in a race of this magnitude since he was a 15-year-old kid competing in just one event at the Sydney Games, a dozen years ago.
"It was horrible," Phelps told coach Bob Bowman when he climbed out after finishing fourth.
Bowman's reply: "It was."
Lochte turned the much-anticipated duel with Phelps into a blowout, raising serious questions about whether the guy who has won 14 gold medals and 16 medals overall has anything left in the tank for his Olympic farewell.
Phelps is planning to retire as soon as he finishes the last of his seven races in London, but he looked ready to call it a career while struggling just to pull himself from the water after the event.
He was totally spent.
He was thoroughly beaten, perhaps signaling a changing of the guard at the pool.
"This is my year," said Lochte, who popped in his grillz — diamond-studded mouth jewelry — for the victory ceremony. "I know it and I feel it, because I've put in hard work. I've trained my butt off for four years ... and there's no better way to start this Olympics off than getting gold."
Phelps barely qualified for the evening final, a performance that hinted at trouble ahead.
Trouble indeed. Phelps was blown out by Lochte and beaten by Brazil's Thiago Pereira and Japan's Kosuke Hagino.
"It was just a crappy race," Phelps said. "I felt fine the first 200, then I don't know. They just swam a better race than me, a smarter race than me, and were better prepared than me. That's why they're on the medal stand."
Lochte took the gold with a time of 4 minutes, 5.18 seconds. Pereira (4:08.86) and Hagino (4:08.94) were well back but ahead of Phelps, who touched fourth in 4:09.28 — nearly 5 ½ seconds off his world record from the Beijing Olympics and not nearly as fast as he went during the U.S. trials last month.
Since finishing fifth in his lone event at Sydney, the 200 butterfly, Phelps was 16 of 16 when it came to winning medals at the Olympics — 14 golds and two bronzes. That run is over.
Sixteen-year-old Ye Shiwen from China set a world record in the women's 400 individual medley — only the third mark to fall since high-tech bodysuits were banned at the end of 2009. She won in 4:28.43, breaking the mark of 4:29.45 by Australia's Stephanie Rice at the 2008 Beijing Games.
Australia captured gold in the women's 400 freestyle relay with an Olympic record of 3:33.15, rallying to pass the U.S. and hold off the fast-charging Netherlands.
The Americans slipped to the bronze, but that gave Natalie Coughlin her 12th career medal, tying Dara Torres and Jenny Thompson as the most decorated U.S. female Olympians in any sport.